Regional NGO Reorganizes to Survive and Succeed


An NGO providing licensing, investigation and law enforcement for several western Washington counties faced a 20% funding reduction, increased public information filings and broad constituent dissatisfaction with board oversight and stewardship, complicated by a heavily unionized and morale-challenged workforce.


Initial assessment revealed immediate need for business process overhaul, organizational redesign, operational charter revision, role refinement and a public relations campaign to restore public confidence and ensure the agency’s mission to serve, rescue and protect.

The severe organizational and compliance crisis required a rapid implementation cycle. Beginning with an operational redesign, a customized Lean operations training program was provided for leadership staff, with basic Lean huddle concepts and Kaizen workshops throughout the organization. Using feedback from other counties, talent mapping and leadership assessments, Alacer developed a simplified management structure to flatten the organization and introduced a formal operations function.

Next, the NGO’s charter was overhauled in a series of mediated sessions, leading to changes in board membership. An aggressive public relations campaign rebuilt the trust of municipal constituents, funding bodies, and the public. Alacer is one of few firms working in government operations able to offer integrated assessment, design, improvement, deployment and marketing communications services.


Lean improvements resulted in savings of 38% against non-personnel operating expenses; board overhaul and leadership redesign was directly credited with the prevention of a work stoppage and 14% reduction in work grievances. Further, charter refinements, stewardship changes and a new public image helped the NGO obtain three votes of confidence, and 97% restoration of defunded appropriations. As this agency serves both as a non-profit and municipal entity, private funding and donations allow additional support. Reversing a declining trend, donations increased 11% in the 18 months following Alacer’s work, per the most recent 990 disclosure.